One of the filthiest disease carrying animals are pigeons.
Pigeons, who fill plazas, perch on statues, dropping feces
as confetti, are carriers of thirty different diseases which
Their feces doesn’t just make a mess, but contains
a mixture of bacterium, fungi, paracititic and yeasts,
many being airborne.
Below are just a few of the diseases pigeons carry.
MYCOTIC diseases are not transmitted human to
human but inhaled. The fungi which causes them,
lives saprophytically in pigeon feces.
Aspergillosis is one of these diseases. The inhaled
fungus produces toxins which poison the victim’s blood.
Cryptococcosis is caused by a systemic pathogenic yeast.
No organ or tissue of the body is exempt. It frequently
involves the brain covering as cryptococcal meningitis.
This yeast is carried in the intestinal tract of pigeons
and deposited in their feces. Pigeon coops are full of it.
Histoplasmosis is an air borne disease was once considered
as a biological warfare agent.
It is a pulmonary disease but may extend to the liver,
lymph nodes, and spleen. The organism may disseminate
to the blood and bone marrow and be fatal.
It is often mistaken for ‘flu’.
There are a number of BACTERIAL DISEASES
identified with pigeons. Erysipeloid generally starts
in a break in the skin accompanied by a sensation
of burning, throbbing pain, and intense itching.
Listeriosis causes changes in the cells of the nervous
system. It may cause conjunctivitis, endocarditis, and
skin infections. It can also cause meningitis in newborns,
abortions, premature delivery, stillbirths, and death.
Parteurellosis is caused by a highly contagious bacteria,
Pasteurella multicida. Pigeons spread the bacteria through
their droppings or nasal discharge. The organism can live
a month in pigeon manure or three months in a dead pigeon.
Salmonellosis is more than food poisoning.
Gastroenteritis is the most common manifestation.
Pigeons spread salmonellae as the bacteria are left
wherever the pigeons defecate. As pigeons walk
back and forth through their mess, the leave
deposits anywhere they perch.
Yersiniosis is a plague-like disease. It is clinically
indistinguishable from appendicitis. Because of the
similarity, sometimes unnecessary appendectomies
Transmission may be through the feces, eggs, or ticks
PROTOZOAN diseases include American trypansomiasis,
toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis. There is no vaccine,
effective treatment, or cure for the disease. It is
transmitted through the feces of infected triatimid bugs.
Toxoplasmosis seems to have an affinity for brain
tissue; it may cause mental retardation and death.
Pigeons frequently transmit toxoplasmosis through
fecal contamination, respiratory droplets, eye
secretions, contact with infected tissue, or through
West Nile encephalitis ranges from mild to fatal
Infections. The virus has been isolated from pigeons.
Meningitis causes as inflammation of the brain and its
covering, the virus has been detected in pigeon feces.
CHLAMYDIAL and RICKETTSIAL diseases.
Chlamydiosis, caused by Chlamydia psittiaci,
causes a flu-like respiratory infection with high
fever, severe headache, and generalized aches
Often treated as if it is flu, mortality is usually
restricted to the old, the weak, or those with
concurrent disease. Pigeons are the common
and consistent source of all known hosts
Investigators have isolated C. burnetti from the
kidneys of pigeons. The disease can be transmitted
by infected ticks, ingestion, or by inhalation of
dust contaminated with the organism.
PARASITIC WORMS include cestodes and trematodes.
Taeniasis by large tapeworm is caused by Taenia
saginata, with specimens up to 50 feet having been
recovered. Pigeons have been incriminated as vectors.
Schistosomiasis, one of the most prevalent diseases
throughout the world, is caused by a water-borne
trematode and pigeons are responsible.
If you keep pigeons, or live in close proximity to
them, when you become ill, make sure you inform
your physcian. Pigeon borne diseases are often
mistaken for other diseases, and only at autopsy
would the actual cause be determined.
If you are thinking of keeping pigeons, sewer rats
are a safer choice.